Institutions, especially venerable ones, develop rhythms and cycles. When I worked in the European Commission’s Secretariat-General, life was governed by two rhythms, one weekly – the preparatory meetings leading up to the college’s Wednesday meetings – and the other monthly – the preparations leading up the European Parliament’s plenary sessions. When I worked in the Council Secretariat-General there was a subtle interplay between the weekly rhythms of Coreper II and I meetings, and the preparatory work leading up to sectoral Council meetings. When I worked in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, it was an interplay between preparations for the Committee of Ministers and those for the plenary sessions. All institutions develop these rhythms, and they become almost organic. In the case of the European Economic and Social Committee, no matter what the political substance on the agenda, for me the rhythm of a pre-plenary session Monday is always the same: early morning meeting with the President, coordination meeting with the head of my secretariat, chairing the management board from nine-thirty till eleven-thirty, at eleven-thirty chairing the ‘pre-session meeting’ with all the colleagues involved in the preparation of the plenary and in the afternoon and evening representing the administration in the meeting of the enlarged Presidency where the political agenda of the Bureau and the Plenary Session is prepared. Such are institutions that ten years ago I am sure my predecessor could have written an identical post and in ten years the SG will no doubt also be able to write exactly the same account. It is such reflections that convince me of the truth of the old saw that within institutions positions of leadership are loaned but never owned.